February 03, 2009 03:41:47am
50 Years Ago- "The Day the Music Died"
(CNN) -- The facts are these: Just after 1 a.m. February 3, 1959, a three-passenger Beechcraft Bonanza went down about five miles northwest of Mason City Municipal Airport, near Clear Lake, Iowa. The plane crash took the lives of the pilot, Roger Peterson, and three musicians: Charles Hardin Holley, better known as Buddy Holly, 22; Ritchie Valens (originally Valenzuela), 17; and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28. The three young musicians were part of the "Winter Dance Party," a ramshackle tour that started in Wisconsin.
It has become famous, in Don McLean's "American Pie" formulation, as "the day the music died."
The event has echoed through rock 'n' roll history for 50 years, representing, if not the end of rock 'n' roll itself, the close of an era, the end of the first bloom of rock anarchy and innovation.
"It was like a curtain coming down," said Terry Stewart, president of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, which is co-hosting a series of events in Clear Lake for the anniversary, including classes putting the event in historical context.
As they have for decades, visitors have been making the pilgrimage to the resort town about 110 miles north of Des Moines. On Monday night, the 50th anniversary of the trio's deaths, the city's Surf Ballroom and Museum will host a huge concert in conjunction with the Rock Hall.
Expected are luminaries including Graham Nash, whose 1960s British band was named for Holly; the Smithereens' Pat DiNizio, who wrote the song "Maria Elena" for Holly's widow; Los Lobos, who followed in the Hispanic-rock tradition begun by Valens; Texans Delbert McClinton and Joe Ely; and Tommy Allsup, who was a Holly sideman at the show 50 years ago.
"The vision [for the Monday show] has always been that we go back to the roots," said Laurie Lietz, the Surf's executive director. "There were so many who were influenced by [the trio]. So the tribute concert is really a tribute to each individual."
The Surf, which was refurbished in 1995 by a local family (it's now run by a foundation), includes the original stage, the telephone where Holly and Valens placed their last calls, guitars, photographs and a green room with hundreds of autographs.
They all pay tribute to the last show for three men.
Holly, Valens and Richardson were part of the Winter Dance Party, a ramshackle tour that had started in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and headed to small cities in Minnesota and Iowa.
The tour, which also included Dion and the Belmonts and members of Holly's backing band, had lumbered along in subfreezing temperatures in unheated buses; two days earlier, one bus had stalled out on a lonely Wisconsin road. By the time the group reached Clear Lake, Holly in particular was ready to bolt.
"Buddy was very determined when he wanted something," said his widow, Maria Elena Holly, of her "otherwise laid-back" husband of six months.
He booked the plane to fly to Fargo, North Dakota, where he planned to rest up and do laundry in advance of the group's next concert in Moorhead, Minnesota, across the state line.
Fargo native Bobby Vee, who remembers the tragedy vividly, acknowledges that he owes his career to the event. The then-high school sophomore named Robert Velline had come home for lunch and heard a local DJ talking about the Moorhead show.
"I had a ticket for the show. I was a huge Buddy Holly fan and a huge rock 'n' roll fan," he recalled, adding that a major rock 'n' roll concert in the area was a rarity. "As I got closer into the kitchen ... [my mother and brother] were talking about this plane crash that had taken place. I couldn't put it all together."
But the promoter had decided to go on with the show and invited local bands to participate. Vee was in a garage band, and a friend suggested that they participate. The band, so loose it didn't even have a name, got on the bill. At the end of the night, a local booking agent approached them, and the Shadows (a name Vee came up with as they waited offstage) entered the music business.
Vee's hits eventually included 1961's "Take Good Care of My Baby" and 1967's "Come Back When You Grow Up."
"It changed my life," Vee said. "I was a 15-year-old. I'd never experienced that kind of tragedy. I wasn't there to start a career -- I didn't know what a career was -- I was just there to help out, because that's what people do when there's a problem."
Rock critic Dave Marsh also remembers hearing about the crash.
"I went to the door of our little house in Pontiac, Michigan, and I picked up the newspaper, and ... it was the first thing I saw: Three rock 'n' roll guys dying in a plane crash," he says. "I was 9, but I had an aunt who was just seven years older than me and a mother who was an Elvis fan and who watched 'American Bandstand' every day. So I was aware. ... It was something to deal with, people that young dying."
But, indicating the lack of esteem for rock 'n' roll at the time, it wasn't a major national news story. The New York Times put a plane crash on its February 4 front page, but it was an American Airlines flight that had crashed near LaGuardia Airport. The Clear Lake tragedy was on page 66. The same was true for other major newspapers.
"[Holly] really wasn't known to the older generation," said "Austin City Limits" executive producer and Holly aficionado Terry Lickona. "Even in his hometown [of Lubbock, Texas], they were embarrassed by him."
The trio's deaths coincided with a period of dark events in rock 'n' roll history, including Elvis Presley's induction into the Army, Jerry Lee Lewis' blacklisting, the record industry payola scandals and Chuck Berry's Mann Act conviction, not to mention the rise of manufactured teen idols such as Frankie Avalon and Fabian.
Partly thanks to McLean's lingering phrase, the ensuing years have been painted as a rock Dark Ages, rescued only by the Beatles' arrival in 1964 at the vanguard of the British Invasion.
Marsh says that canard, which he has refuted in "The Book of Rock Lists" and "The Heart of Rock and Soul," should be laid to rest once and for all.
"I think what happened was that people weren't paying attention themselves and assumed no one else was, either," he said. "I think it's also a way that glorifies the lack of stars [compared to rock's early days]. That was missing. ... I don't think Roy Orbison had quite the same stature."
Which doesn't mean that the music of Orbison, Phil Spector, early Motown or Gary U.S. Bonds deserves to be overlooked, he added: "The quality of the music is undeniable."
What would have happened to the trio in that era is, of course, impossible to know. Valens, celebrated in the movie "La Bamba," was just starting his career and may have produced more hits; Richardson, a former DJ and radio program director who shot some rudimentary music videos, had shrewd entrepreneurial instincts.
And then there's Holly, with his songwriting talent, his arranging abilities (he did the strings on "It Doesn't Matter Anymore," his last single) and sheer knowledge of music.
Maria Elena Holly, who watches over his legacy, says Buddy had big plans: He wanted to do albums with Ray Charles and Mahalia Jackson; he wanted to try film music; he wanted to do music publishing.
"He was a multitasker in every way," she said.
Monday, he and the others will simply be remembered at the ballroom where it's always February 2, 1959, and they're putting on another great show.
"When I come to these things, I don't think about [that] this is the last time I talked to him was from here. I think, I'm meeting the fans who have kept his memory alive," said Maria Elena Holly, who admits to getting "a little bit teary" when she hears "True Love Ways."
"And that's really what Buddy wanted to happen with his music: He wanted people to enjoy the music, to listen to it and make them happy," she said. "And when I think of it that way, I think at least his dream came true."
This post was modified by CompSurfahV2 on 2009-02-03 11:41:47 Attachment: art.day.music.died.jpg
February 03, 2009 01:50:47pm
Re:'The Day the Music Died'
The most popular Bandleader of the Swing-era was Alton Glenn Miller who was born on Mar. 1. 1904 in a small town called Clarinda, in the state of Iowa. He soon began to hate his name, because his mother would call for him, shouting at the top of her lungs. After having read and studied everything he could find about music and doing little jobs on the side, he had been allowed to set up a band for Ray Noble in winter 1934/35. Miller played the trombone and wrote the music, which was already very much his own unique style. On 25th of April 1935 Glenn Miller played his first 4 titles under his own name for Columbia. But the real "Glenn Miller Orchestra" was set up only in March of 1937. Appearances for Decca and Brunswick and a couple of concerts followed, but the band did not get have its real break-through.
In March of 1938 Miller started playing with a new band, practicing with Tex Beneke and Ray Eberle. The first big performance was at the "Paradise Restaurant" in N.Y. in June of the same year. The final break-through for the Glenn Miller Band was the performance at the famous "Glen Island Casino" in New Rochelle, New York. Now the "Glenn Miller Sound" had practically became No. 1 in America, and this overnight. At the peak of his popularity 20th Century Fox produced two films "Sun Valley Serenade" (1942) with the Glenn Miller Band. Extremely popular became the radio series where G. Miller played for Chesterfield between 12/17 1939 and 9/24 1942. In autumn 1942 G. Miller joined the Army as Captain. After more than a year of being in the "US Army Air Force Band" Miller boarded the Queen Elisabeth on June 22, 1944 at the port of New York, pier #90 to go to Europe.
From then the band played for hundreds of radio broadcasts in England and sometimes some of these were even "propaganda broadcasts", that were translated into German for the rest of Europe. Still today you can listen to Glenn Millers attempts at speaking German on discs. On Dec. 15. 1944, a cold winters day Glenn Miller, together with Lt. Col. Norman, F. Baessell and the pilot F/O John R.S. Morgan boarded the Noordwyn "Norseman" at the airport, at Twinwood Farm, near Bedford, by London, to fly to Paris, where he intended to prepare a performance at "Olympia". The airplane was never seen again and the three men were reported as "missing". Since then the wild stories have been invented about Glenn Millers disappearance. The most probable theory is that the airplane for some reasons crashed and fell into the British Channel. The AEF Band, carried on playing and supporting their troops, even without their big leader, and Jerry Gray conducted them until November the 17th 1945 when they gave their last concert.http://www.bigbands.org/miller_files.html
The History of the Jukebox
Before the jukebox, there was something called the "coin-slot phonograph," which employed phonograph cylinders for the playing of music. Since the coin-slot phonograph was only capable of playing one piece of music about two minutes in length, it was soon replaced by the earliest models of the jukebox, which could play multiple pieces of music using vinyl gramophone records.
The term jukebox almost certainly comes from jook, a slang term for dance popular in the early twentieth century. The first common parlance employing the term was jook joint. Jook joints were informal public houses that featured live music, usually early blues, and alcohol.
The first jukeboxes used 78-rpm records exclusively until 1950 when the all-45-rpm jukebox was released. The 45-rpm jukebox soon became the standard for years to come until the advent of digital music and the compact disc.
You can find a "retro diner" in almost any city in the United States, and, invariably, you'll find the most popular form of jukebox from the mid-twentieth century, the so-called "Wallbox." The wallbox was not technically a jukebox at all. Rather it was a remote unit, usually located at each table of the diner, at which customers could pay for songs to be played on the central jukebox.
The wallboxes were extremely popular as they were very fun and convenient for customers, and lucrative for the proprietors of diners and malt shops of the 1950s and '60s.
Advancements in the technology of the 45-rpm jukeboxes were made along the way, but, until the 1980s, jukeboxes varied mainly in their aesthetic appearance. Along with the big hair and Cold War politics of the 1980s came the compact disc. Soon, compact discs became the standard for jukeboxes, and those employing 45-rpm records were quickly relegated to the status of relics.
The compact disc has been served its comeuppance, though. The ease and speed with which digital music files can be shared and transferred has led to the dominance of the digital jukebox. The digital jukebox operates by downloading music over the Internet.
The word Jook is an old African-American term, meaning to dance, sometimes used with sexual connotations. It has also been suggested that the Southern jute crop fields had workers who frequented low class road houses or makeshift bars, which were called juke (or Jute) joints, where these early Jukeboxes would appear.
Whatever the origin, the juke joint was a spot for dancing, and the jukebox provided the music. By 1927, The Automatic Music Instrument Company created the world's first electrically amplified multi selection phonograph. With this amplification, suddenly the Jukebox could compete with a large orchestra, for the cost of a nickel. Prohibition assured the jukeboxes success, as every underground speakeasy needed music, but could not afford a live band. Tavern owners were privileged to have a jukebox, which drew in customers, and was provided by an operator at no charge.
The importance of the jukebox to Bluesmen, and the White Country and Rockabilly artists at Sun Records cannot be underestimated. Much of early radio was live concerts staged at fashionable hotels, like the ritzy Peabody Hotel's Skyway broadcasts where a young Sam Phillips started his broadcasting career.
These radio concerts were of respectable music of the day; light Classical, Swing, Jazz orchestras, or show tunes. The lower class Blues "Race music," or Rockabilly, were not held in high esteem as worthy of a radio broadcast. So Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith, Roosevelt Sykes, and Carl Perkins with their wild rebel music had to find another medium.
Aside from the Chitlin Circuit (Black patrons and musicians), the jukebox was the only place to hear this type of music, from the late 1920's until the late 1950's. In it's heyday, the juke box provided the power to sell hundreds of records at once for artists like Chuck Berry, and Jerry Lee Lewis.
The jukebox was color blind in a segregated world. Black patrons thought Bill Black, Carl Perkins, and Steve Cropper were Negroes singing, while White patrons, were exposed to, and accepted Black artists work, never having seen the performer in person.
After the depression, jukebox sales rose dramatically, as leading manufacturers Wurlitzer, Seeburg, and Rock-Ola, devised spectacular creations of wood, metal, and phenolic resins which danced behind tubes of enchanting cellophane, Polaroid film, and plastic.
Interestingly enough the Rock-Ola name had nothing to do with Rock n' Roll. Like Seeburg, and Wurlitzer, it was the last name of the companies founder, Canadian David Rockola.
1946 Wurlitzer 1015
During World War II from 1942 till early 1946, jukebox production was halted by the US government to conserve labor and materials for war efforts. Wurlitzer's 1946 model 1015 was the most popular of the era with more than 56,000 units shipped under the slogan "Wurlitzer Is Jukebox."